When people think about breast cancer, they usually think of a tumor inside the breast. Another very rare type of breast cancer, called Paget’s disease of the nipple, develops in or around the nipple instead of deep inside the breast.
What is cancer?
Cancer is a disease that results when normal cells in the body start to grow out of control and become abnormal cells. These abnormal cells multiply into tumors and sometimes invade or grow into other tissues. Some cancers can be inherited, but in most cases, cancer grows because of a mistake that happens at random when a normal cell is reproducing. As they continue to multiply, cancer cells can migrate to other parts of the body and form new tumors.
Breast cancer is typically a tumor that is malignant, or harmful, that grows in the tissue of the breast. Most breast cancer patients are women, but it is possible for men to develop breast cancer. A normal female breast has lobules which are glands that produce milk and ducts which are the tubes that carry milk from the lobules to the nipple so a baby can nurse. These ducts and lobules are surrounded by fatty tissue that gives the breast its size and shape.
What is Paget’s disease?
Paget’s disease of the nipple is a type of breast cancer that starts in the ducts of the breast then spreads out onto the skin of the nipple. From there it can also spread onto the skin of the areola, which is the darker circle around the nipple. Symptoms of Paget’s disease can include:
• Crust or scaling on the skin of the nipple and areola
• Itching or burning
• Pain or increased sensitivity
• Thickening of the skin
• Flattening of the nipple
• Yellow or bloody discharge from the nipple
Paget’s disease of the nipple is a very rare type of breast cancer which is found in less than 5 percent of all breast cancer cases. Paget’s disease is most common in patients who are over age 50, but some cases have been diagnosed in patients in their 20s. More than 95 percent of all Paget’s disease patients also have another type of breast cancer.